Codeine products may become prescription-only next year

PATIENTS trying to buy common codeine-based painkillers could soon be forced to visit the doctor to get a prescription.

The nation's drug assessment body, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has been reconsidering whether to stop over-the-counter sales of codeine.

An interim report from a TGA advisory committee recommends making codeine-based drugs prescription-only from July next year.

Codeine, which is included in products such as Nurofen Plus and Panadeine Extra, has been linked to addiction and over-use.

It is not sold over the counter in the US and most of Europe.

In its report, the committee found the risks from codeine included severe reactions and abuse or misuse, and there was a lack of evidence codeine performed better than placebos in relieving coughs.

The Australian Medical Association has backed the committee's findings, but the Pharmacy Guild has questioned whether making codeine prescription-only may force up Medicare costs.

The TGA's reassessment comes as Health Minister Sussan Ley completes a wider review of more than 5000 Medicare-subsidised drugs and treatments.

A final decision on codeine medicines will be made next month after a public submission period this month.



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